From this answer: https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/24022/1660, I'd like to quote this:

The paradox energy essentially creates a shielded fixed point in time. That particular region of 1938 New York can neither be changed nor visited by the Doctor or the TARDIS. The Doctor mentions trying to penetrate such a fixed point could conceivably destroy New York or potentially the planet.

Okay, so The Doctor can't land there to at least visit Amy and Rory. Well, can't he land outside New York and then, well, take a little walk to them?

Edit: Why can't it be visited by the Doctor anyway?

And, even if the Doctor himself can't walk into New York, surely Amy and Rory could go outside, no? So in Amy's afterword she would have said "Meet us in X place outside NY >_>", so it is just a matter of the Doctor going there and waiting for them to come.

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    ....beecaaause it "can neither be changed nor visited by the Doctor or the TARDIS"? Is this just asking for clarification?
    – Izkata
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 4:49
  • Woops, forgot to ask: Why can't be visited by the Doctor?
    – Saturn
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 4:50
  • 6
    Or just wait until 1939 and go back. Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 13:13
  • 11
    This episode did have a number of questionable plot points. For example, how did the Statue move (we all know which one I mean, so I'll leave the spoiler out of it)? I highly doubt there is ever a time that someone isn't looking at it, ever. It was an emotional episode, but the plot left quite a bit to be desired.
    – BBlake
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 17:36

13 Answers 13


Several factors have been pointed out by fan communities

  • The Williams' (or Ponds' if you prefer) timeline has become so convoluted it is their timeline that is causing the massive distortions, and therefore if they were to travel, they would bring the problems with them. This is the weakest of these theories.
  • In the book the chapter's name says "Amelias Last Farewell" which, since the Doctor has read it, makes the fact that they never meet again, fixed.
  • After reading the final at the end of the book the Doctor finally realizes that the Williams' are simply trying to live a normal life, and he continues to tear them out of that. He accepts his place as the rejected man of the Amy - Rory - Doctor love triangle.

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    For the second point: It is true that the book says "Amelia's last farewell", but it doesn't mean that the book is telling the truth. How come? Simply put: River thought that it was truly Amy's last appearance - but River could be wrong, and therefore the chapter title she wrote would be wrong as well :)
    – Saturn
    Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 6:03
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    They had moments before almost broken the world trying to win, and still lost eachother. How much further do you think he should push it before leaving them be, espeshally since he knows they live happily ever after? Who do you think this is David Tennent?
    – Ashterothi
    Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 14:56
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    @omega River, being River, could be deliberately misleading, too.
    – Darael
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 18:28
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    This has always confused me: this reasoning only works if the contents of the book turn out to be 100% true. The Doctor lies. Why can't a book? Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:04
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    Okay, so I now have a theory as to what happened. I think I know why Amy and Rory don't move from New York. River knows that in the early 1970s, as a child she is sick and regenrates. She also says to Amy and Rory as she turns from Melody into River, "see, you ended up raising me anyway." what if River tells Amy and Rory where to find her when she regens and they, now in their 50/60s, raise Melody? Then when NYC Amy and Rory are getting on in their years, they send Melody to school in the UK in the same year as their younger selves, to complete the circle. Oh I'm quite excited. Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 8:05

I think the key part of the ending to that episode is what he tells Amy as she's about to leave. He says to her:

You are creating a fixed point. [emphasis mine]

My interpretation of this is that there's now two different effects going on. The region around 1938 NYC, where the Doctor is at the time, is now so messed up due to the time paradox that he cannot go anywhere near it with the TARDIS or risk serious damage. I'm likening this to what happened to Dalek Caan when he somehow went into the Time War to extracted Davros, but nearly destroyed himself (and went insane) doing so.

What happened with Amy and Rory was a fixed point in their, The Doctor's and River's respective timelines, independent of the other paradox. Note that Rory not only got sent back at least 50 years, but he also died in the same area that he landed -- we see his tombstone. There's nothing particularly special about pre-1890s NYC that should keep The Doctor away, but what is special is that from The Doctor's perspective Rory lived the rest of his life there. By allowing herself to be sent back, Amy is creating the same fixed elements of her own timeline.

Of course, wibbly-wobbly-etc-etc here, but in general there has always been a sense in Doctor Who that The Doctor cannot every go back and "fix" his own mistakes; that from his perspective, his life has to run in one direction. Had Rory and Amy simply been sent back into the past, he could have chased after them. But that's not what happens. He has seen what happened to them -- they lived out their lives and died in the NYC area. From The Doctor and River's perspectives, Amy and Rory are now dead, and there isn't anything they can do, safely, to fix that.

(CAVEAT: This explanation will remain valid right up until the two of them reappear in the 50th anniversary episode, of course accompanied by Rose and Time-Lord Donna and Jenny.)


I think from the beginning of the episode they tried to establish that there are certain things even the Doctor can not change.

For example when he told Amy not to read ahead in the book. Because if she read it, it would definitely happen (because it must have happened in the past for her to be able to read it in the future) and they would loose the chance to change anything.

Later her told Amy that if she went to be with Rory, it would create a fixed point in time. In other words - even he would not be able to bring her back. We saw in the previous season what can happen if you mess with a fixed point in time. The risk would simply be to high.

As to why Amy and Rory can't meet him outside New York, if one Weeping Angel survived the paradox, it most likely means that they still (at least a few) do exist in 1938. In other words, Amy and Rory are trapped, in the house or at least the general area around it, because the angels feed of them and don't let them leave.
If so, then it would also be too dangerous for the Doctor to go and meet them.
This seems very likely, because why would they have stayed the rest of their lives in New York (unless they really liked it)? Why didn't they go back to Britain to die in their homeland?

Also, I'm not sure that it's actually absolutely impossible for him to physically meet them. I rather think he doesn't want to. River told Amy to never let him see the damage or age - because he hates ends.
I think he might actually not be able to bring himself to visit them, seeing them aged and fully knowing he can't save them though he wants to. And probably worse, that he can never take them with him again.

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    The afterword says "so know that we lived well, and were very happy." so I don't think they were troubled by Angels. Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 12:50
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    @NikolaiDante Well, the way I understand the whole thing, the Angels don't trouble you at all. But they won't let you leave. They actually feed on time energy, so it's not like they need to hurt them. On the contrary, they need people alive. The afterword could mean that they were happy despite their circumstances, because they only really needed each other to be happy. But it's just a guess of course. Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 13:04
  • Individual Angels just send you back and live on the energy released by that change. The Angels in Winter Quay optimized that process by keeping you trapped in the hotel and creating self-overlapping timelines so they could feed on you for your whole life. When Amy and Rory poisoned them with paradox, that plan was removed, so the final angel must just be a standard angel. Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 21:48

Remembering River's advice, "never let him see the damage," implies that Rory and Amy might have actually lived as angel food, but she thought it was best not to sadden him over something he can't control. Unfortunately, this seems to make more sense than the story she wrote in the book. Amy has shown she can be selfless, and has unwavering love for the doctor, and faith in his purpose, so it fits her character. If they had the power to leave the city, and get where the TARDIS could travel, they could easily get the doctor's attention through the book, or another way. It doesn't fit either of their characters to voluntarily stay where they can't see their parents or River again, so it seems more likely they are trapped. Buuuuuut.......this story doesn't have to be over yet. No one ever said River HAS to write the book.

  • She does have to write the book, because the Doctor and Amy already read it. How can they read it if it's never written?
    – childcat15
    Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 22:30
  • @childcat15 because their past alternate selves wrote it, if you believe in the alternate universe theory, which Dr. Who is very inconsistent about Commented Jul 6, 2014 at 4:52
  • @shieldgenerator7 since the modern reboot they've stated in the show, specifically in the episode Rise of the Cybermen, that there are alternate universes that used to be maintained by the Time Lords, but those have been sealed off since their demise. There is no interaction between alternate universes (except in the occasional galaxy-threatening incident that is the main plot of an episode)
    – childcat15
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 19:27
  • @childcat15 Yes I remember that episode, but Dr. Who is very inconsistent with this. For example, in the one with Shakespeare, the doctor tells Martha that she will cease to exist ala Back to the Future if they fail. This violates the alternate universe theory, which says that Martha would not cease to exist if they failed. According to the alternate universe theory, Amy and whoever could have gone back in time, wrote the book, and their past selves could read it, taking it as a warning rather than what is dead set in stone. But Dr. Who doesn't apparently follow this theory in this episode. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 19:41

From what I've read in the comments and other forum, I came up with an explanation that makes most sense.

To be very clear firstly, I believe the Doctor can go back but he chooses not to.

Why can't he use the TARDIS to go back? He chooses not to use the TARDIS because he isn't a 100% sure whether he can make it or will he destroy New York and this is because of the Paradox Rory and Amy created before.

Why then can River Song get back? River song can use the Vortex Manipulator to go back, just as the TARDIS can, but the difference is that she knows she can since she already did it before (She succeeded and that's why the book was published).

Why doesn't River go back and save Amy and Rory? 1) She doesn't want to and does not see the need to. (When Amy decided to go to Rory, she was supportive and telling her to go). She knows that Amy is happy with Rory. 2) She would be going back on her book. Her last chapter was titled "Amelia's Last Farewell". This suggests that her future self knows the Amelia never says good bye again so bringing her back would be going against her book.

The Doctor can use the Vortex Manipulator to go back just like River but he chooses not to. Why? He knows Amy and Rory are happy just the way they are. How? Firstly, they were both engraved on the same tombstone which suggest they were together till the end. Secondly, on the last page, Amy told the Doctor she was happy with Rory.

Why can't the Doctor just land outside New York and visit Amy and Rory? He doesn't want to meet them because he knows it will hurt him, knowing they can never travel with him again (He said the same thing to River's spirit when he visited his own tomb, that he chose to ignore her because talking to her would just hurt him and it did).

Can't the Doctor continue bringing Amy and Rory about and return them back to die in the past? He can but he doesn't take the risk. Even if he is the Doctor, he can't assure their safety. So in the case they were injured and died as his companion else where, another paradox is created, resulting in the destruction of New York.


In all honesty, although this isn't what you're looking for, if the writers wanted to bring Amy and Rory back, they would. There are openings for loopholes.

In the episode "Water on Mars" the Doctor changed a fixed point in time. He had read articles on the subject of the explosion on Mars, and it was supposedly "fixed" but he changed aspects of the point. This shows it is possible, therefore that wouldn't have to be what would stop him from saving them.

Also, there are loopholes in the grave. As I've seen mentioned, all the graves meant was that someone named Amy and someone named Rory had to have a gravestone at that cemetery. They could buy a plot and plant the gravestone if they really really had to, but again, time can be rewritten, and according to "Water on Mars", so can fixed points.

Next, River's chapter title "Amy's Last Farewell" is vague. Amy and Rory say goodbye for the last time. That's fine. But The Doctor could have at least saved them and put them back in their ordinary lives in England, and he could've visited if he wanted. (I feel it's redundant to keep mentioning my could've changed a fixed point theory so just insert it here).

Finally, and most obviously, couldn't the doctor have landed In 1940 NYC or something similar instead, and picked them up? Or had them walk outside the city? Changing the fixed point in "Water on Mars" didn't cause a paradox, time just rewrote. Why would it cause a paradox this time?

My point is, there's several loopholes (though I might not have explained them correctly, I'm tired and it's late, though I wanted to see if there was a more definitive answer out there for this question that I missed) where if the writers (and respective actress/actor) wanted to, they could bring Rory and Amy back. The Doctor has pulled many crazy stunts throughout the series, therefore almost anything is possible if it's what the story calls for.

  • 1
    Oh and by the way, the Doctor should have at least told Rory's Dad what happened, now he'll always be waiting. And I'm sure he could've found a way to drop him off in the 1930s as well to let him live together with Amy and Rory if he so chose.
    – Brad
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 11:32
  • Watch the deleted scene P.S. on YouTube. youtube.com/watch?v=XWU6XL9xI4k&channel=BBC Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 2:50

Amy and Rory aren't living in a time-energy farm. It was destroyed when they jumped off Winter Quay. There's also a scene that was shot where a man shows up at Brian's door (about a week after The Power of 3, in his time) and explains to them what happened. He says that he is the adopted son of Amy and Rory, after they got sent to the past. So Brian doesn't spend his whole life wondering what happened, and they really did live out a good life together.

I wonder if Amy and Rory ever accidentally encountered him in the present. They wouldn't have known who he was, having not been sent back yet. And surely they raised their kid on the stories of their adventures. So he would know better than to interact with their timelines. I also wonder if he ever met River? They are siblings!

I agree though that the doctor should be able to visit them. He can't fly the Tardis into 1938 NYC anymore, but he should be able to land upstate in 1945 and take a train in. Or meet them somewhere outside the city at a later date. Even if somehow they couldn't travel with him anymore, he could still see them, right?

And how does River go about telling Amy to write the afterword? She must go into the past and meet her. Or at least send her a letter. And if she can send a letter to them in their time, then they could also hop a bus and see each other.

  • That scene you mention from Power of Three was a cut scene. The gentleman in question says very little, he just hands Brian a letter, and waits in the living room for him to read it. The note is from Rory, who explains the situation. The scene, in animatic form - youtube.com/watch?v=XWU6XL9xI4k (Written by current Who showrunner Chris Chibnall) Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 18:22

If you notice, they always get sent back to that graveyard outside of NYC, which could either be because a) the Doctor can't EVER be in NYC again or b) because it's a completely fixed point now; no matter how many times he could try and go back and change things, they would always end up there. He read the tombstone and knows they lived out their lives there, the afterword always being in the book. And the afterword suggests they never saw him again, so he can't go back and change that. River, on the other hand, didn't see the tombstone, she never looks at it. And who is to say she doesn't just go back and post the book to Amy?


I'm almost certain that the Doctor read their names in the tombstone, along with when they died and how long they lived to be, and it mentioned that whatever you read comes true? It is quite questionable. But also, it was a fixed point in time because of the weeping angels, and there would be another time paradox similar to when Riversong didn't shoot the Doctor, but there would be no way to fix it unless the Doctor dropped them back off at their time. (Although, a lot of things don't entirely make sense and shouldn't work in our world, but it is a Sci-Fi show and follows some of its own rules.)

It is also questionable why the new area became a fixed point in time when their original time period didn't but I suppose it has something to do with the 'reading law' of time and space. I hope this helped in some way, although the entire matter has to do with the author's fantasy.


I had this same question and it was really bugging me so i re watched the entire episode. At the end, right before Amy goes after Rory, the Doctor sees their tombstones so it is fixed that they die in the past.

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    The fact that they die in the past doesn't imply they will live the rest of their life in the past. It only implies that the final moments of their life will be in the past. So they could indeed travel with the doctor, and when they're old enough, they can just return to the past and die off.
    – Saturn
    Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 20:12
  • It only implies that there's a tombstone.
    – DougM
    Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 20:25

  1. it's technically part of his time stream, so he can't go into it.
  2. the last chapter of the book was already:

    Amalia's last farewell

  3. Karen Gillan was going to be in Guardians of the Galaxy.


I think every time he brought them out of that time they would just reappear in 1939 by some freak accident or possibly die if they left. It wasn't that he couldn't get them it was that they might just die as soon as they enter the tardis or an angel would always be able to follow them and send them back or maybe they would just wake up there whenever they fell asleep or something along those lines. The universe would self correct.


I am also very confused by the conflicting plot line of this episode, But i do believe there is an answer, something the writers of that episode would surely have to answer, but i agree with many of the answers here, some people have failed to mention the Fathers day epsiode back in season 1 a fixed point in time that the doctor could never change peter tyler would always die. Also there is the fact that before they went back in time in new york rorys tombstone was already there, so i beleive that with all the paradoxy things going on rory would be trapped in new york forever not being able to ever travel with the doctor, and amy being free of that paradox would choose to no longer travel with the doctor because of rory being trapped in new york.

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